20 February 2007

New Companion, Old Earth - Chapter Four - Part 3

"Sit down," he said, then began opening cupboard doors. Finally he opened the door to the freezer and pulled something out.
"Pizza," he said. "Ever had it?"
Saskia shook her head. "What is it?"
"It's an Italian dish. A large round base of dough with a tomato based sauce covering it, and then toppings of cheese and vegetables or meat are added to suit the taste of the consumer."
Saskia shrugged. "It sounds OK."
"Good. What topping do you want? We've got either ham and pineapple or tuna and sweetcorn," he said, peering at the hand-written labels.
"Tuna," Saskia answered. "Did you make them yourself?"
"Hmm? Oh, no. I picked them up from an Italian chef I know."
"In Italy?" Saskia asked curiously.
"No, Cardiff actually," the Doctor answered with a small smile.

He put the pizza on a round tin, then pushed it into the oven that Saskia had never investigated. He pressed a couple of buttons and the device sprang into life.
"You've got a microwave in here?" Saskia asked in surprise.
"Actually it's a 25th century pizza oven," the Doctor answered. "It works like a microwave, but the food tastes much better."
He began rummaging in the fridge and pulled out various salad ingredients. Saskia watched in amusement as he prepared the various vegetables before tossing them into a bowl. He glanced up and caught her expression.
"Surprised?" he asked, quirking an eyebrow and grinning at her.
"A bit," she answered, smiling back.
"I'm multi-talented," he said, before popping a piece of celery into his mouth.
"And so modest too," she retorted with a grin.
He swallowed. "No point in false modesty," he answered. "When you've been around as long as I have, you pick up most skills."
"True. Why celery?" she asked.
The Doctor looked puzzled. "It's frequently used in salads," he answered.
"No, I meant why did you wear a stick of celery in your lapel? One of your previous incarnations had it pinned to his jacket."
The Doctor paused in astonishment as he was about to pour a salad dressing into a bowl. "How on earth did you know that?" he asked bemused.
"I saw you – him – when I was in your mind," Saskia answered.
The Doctor's eyes widened in surprise. Before he could respond, the pizza oven began to chime, indicating that the pizza was ready to eat. He poured out the salad dressing, then took the pizza out of the oven. Saskia put plates, cutlery and glasses on the table, and the Doctor got a jug of ice water from the fridge.

Saskia wondered nervously if he was angry with her, though she could only sense his surprise. He cut the pizza into slices, then spoke finally. "Help yourself," he said. "Then explain what happened."
She did as he asked, talking between mouthfuls of food. He listened intently, without interrupting once, eating mechanically.
When she had finished speaking, he looked at her thoughtfully. "Do your people make a habit of wandering through others' minds like that?" he asked carefully.
She shook her head. "I've never heard or read of anyone doing anything like that. Not even those who work as counsellors. They might access a particular memory with an individual in order to help them understand an event, but what I did was completely different."
The Doctor was about to answer when the TARDIS hummed a different note. "The Devron is regaining consciousness," he said, standing up. Saskia got up too. "You don't have to come," he told her.
"Yes I do. After what I did, I have to come."
"Come on then," he said, holding out his hand. She took it gratefully and they went to the medical bay.

They only had to wait a few minutes before the Devron woke up. Immediately it began to strain against the straps that held it to the bed. It opened its eyes and Saskia flinched when she saw the intense hate in the glare it directed at her.
"Let us go!" it demanded, voice rising to a scream that reminded the Doctor of the Daleks.
"If I let you go, will you sit quietly and talk with us?" the Doctor asked.
The Devron turned its baleful look on the Doctor. "Time Lord, I thought you were dead," it answered bitterly.
"Oh it takes a good deal more than that to kill me," he answered, with more cheeriness than Saskia would have believed possible. "Now, are you going to be reasonable? If you're not, I'll just sedate you until we can find somewhere to drop you off."
"Where are you taking us?" it demanded furiously.
"Nowhere yet. We're still on Earth," the Doctor answered. "Where do you want to go? Home?"
"We cannot go home. We were exiled for life."
"We could take you home to my planet," Saskia offered, surprising herself almost as much as she surprised the Doctor, who glanced at her quickly.
"Why?" asked the Devron. "We tried to kill you!"
"And I thought I had killed you," she answered. "Yet here we both are – I just think my people could help you."

The Doctor and Saskia waited, watching the Devron's face. The Doctor was being very careful not to betray his thoughts to Saskia. He had sensed her longing to go home again and he didn't want her to know how reluctant he felt at the prospect of taking her back. This was no time to be selfish, after all she had been through.
"Very well," the Devron said, breaking in on the Doctor's thoughts. "We accept your offer. We wish to sleep now."
The Doctor nodded and moved forward to undo the restraints. As he was unfastening the chest restraint, the Devron's hand shot out and grasped the Doctor's wrist in a vice-like grip. "If you trick us, we will kill you both," it said harshly.
The Doctor look down into its face. "We will be there in a few hours," he said evenly, and turned to undo the leg straps.
"I'm going to go and get some sleep too," Saskia said aloud.
The Doctor nodded without looking up. "I'll be in the Control Room", he said.
Saskia went out and he turned back to the Devron. "Do you want some food?" he asked.
"No – thank you. Just sleep."
The Doctor nodded again. "I'll come and get you once we arrive," he said, then left.

Saskia undressed slowly, feeling exhausted by the day's events. She hadn't missed the Doctor's look of dismay when she had suggested taking the Devron home, and she felt guilty for wanting to go back after all they had been through together. But it was precisely because of what they had been through that she wanted to go back home. She felt desperate for some peace and quiet. She also wanted to talk to Dr Karg. He was an Elder and the wisest person she knew. If anyone could help her to make sense of what had happened today, he would be the person to do it. She crawled into her bed and fell asleep instantly.

The Doctor sat on the Control Room bench, feet propped up on the console. His eyes were closed, but he wasn't asleep. He was wondering whether Saskia would be accompanying him once he was ready to travel again, or whether she would go back to her old job. He was also wondering how long he would be able to make himself wait around for her in case she did want to go on travelling with him. He had sworn, after losing Rose, not to have another companion, but it seemed he couldn't stop himself from picking them up. He knew he would never love anyone as much as Rose, but there was no denying the fact that he had a bond with Saskia now. It was unlike anything he had ever had with anyone except Romana, and he had never imagined that he could have such a bond with someone who wasn't from Gallifrey. Opening his eyes, he got up and flicked a couple of switches on the console. Immediately music began to play, echoing quietly around the Control Room. It was a jazz piece, as melancholy as his mood. He went back to his seat on the bench and closed his eyes, trying not to think of anything at all.

When Saskia walked into the Control Room a couple of hours later, the TARDIS was still playing random jazz tracks and the Doctor was still sitting on the bench. He opened his eyes as she approached.
"I didn't realise you had a radio in here," she said.
"I haven't," he answered. "The TARDIS stores music broadcasts that she picks up wherever we go, and I just play it back whenever I feel like it. This is stuff she's stored over the last two days."
"Oh! What's this piece, then?"
"Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. The track's called 'Riffin at the Ritz'."
"Very – snazzy," Saskia observed.
"I can turn it off, if you don't like it," the Doctor said as the piece ended.
"No, that's OK. I've just never heard anything like it." She sat down beside him on the bench. "Doctor –"
"Don't say it."
Saskia raised an eyebrow at his interruption. "Say what?" she asked, frowning in puzzlement.
"That you're not going to be travelling with me again. Please don't tell me that now. Wait a few days before you make a decision."
Saskia was startled by the pleading note in his voice.
"Actually, I wasn't going to say anything like that," she said. "I've no idea whether I'll be travelling with you again or not."
"Oh." The Doctor looked away and she knew he was embarrassed because he had been pleading with her.
She reached out and took his hand in hers. "This has been fairly intense and traumatic for both of us. I was going to ask you to come with me to see Dr Karg, one of our Elders. I'd like to talk to him about what happened today when I was in your mind, and I'd like you to come with me when I go to see him."
"I can do that," he answered. "Even if I can't do anything else for you, I can at least do that." He got to his feet. "We'll be arriving soon. I'm going to fetch the Devron."
Saskia watched him go, puzzling over his comment about not being able to do anything else for her. She suddenly realised that the TARDIS was still playing jazz tracks when a voice began to sing:

I've flown around the world in a plane,
I've settled revolutions in Spain,
And the North Pole I've charted,
Still I can't get started with you.

She sat listening to the rest of the song, wondering what the Doctor wanted to do for her.

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